Basic Guidelines for Successful Planning Process
Written by Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Copyright 1997-2008. Adapted from the Field Guide to Nonprofit Strategic Planning and Facilitation and Field Guide to Nonprofit Program Design, Marketing and Evaluation. One of the most common sets of activities in the management is planning. Very simply put, planning is setting the direction for something -- some system -- and then guiding the system to follow the direction. There are many kinds of planning in organizations. Common to these many kinds of planning are various phases of planning and guidelines for carrying them out as effectively as possible. Information in this document can be referenced as a basis from which to carry out various kinds of planning, ranging from highly complex to simple and basic. (The library topic Planning describes a wide variety of plans.) To help make the following information applicable to as many situations as possible, the scope of the following planning information is to the "system", which is fully explained below. The following process should be customized by planners to the meet the needs and nature of the planners and their organizations. Sections of This Topic Include:
Context of Planning
Putting Planning in its Larger Context (Working Backwards Through Any "System") Quick Look at Some Basic Terms in Planning
Typical Overall Phases in Planning
Basic Overview of Typical Phases in Planning
Guidelines for Successful Planning and Implementation
Involve the Right People in the Planning Process
Write Down the Planning Information and Communicate it Widely Goals and Objectives Should Be SMARTER
Build in Accountability (Regularly Review Who's Doing What and By When?) Note Deviations from the Plan and Replan Accordingly
Evaluate the Planning Process and the Plan
Realize that the Recurring Planning Process is at Least as Important as the Plan Document Ensure the Nature of the Process is Compatible to the Nature of Planners A Critical -- But Frequently Missing Step -- Acknowledgement and Celebration of Results General Resources
Various Other Perspectives
Planning in its Larger Context
Working Backwards Through Any "System"
Before we jump into the typical phases in the standard "generic" planning process, let's stand back and minute and briefly look at the role of planning in its overall context. This is more than an academic exercise -- understanding this overall context for planning can greatly help the reader to design and carry out the planning process in almost planning application. One of the most common sets of activities in the management is planning. Very simply put, planning is setting the direction for something -- some system -- and then working to ensure the system follows that direction. Systems have inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes. To explain, inputs to the system include resources such as raw materials, money, technologies and people. These inputs go through a process where they're aligned, moved along and carefully coordinated, ultimately to achieve the goals set for the system. Outputs are tangible results produced by processes in the system, such as products or services for consumers. Another kind of result is outcomes, or benefits for consumers, e.g., jobs for workers, enhanced quality of life for customers, etc. Systems can be the entire organization, or its departments, groups, processes, etc. (For an overview of various systems in organizations, see Basic Definition of Organization and Various Ways to Look at Organizations.) Whether the system is an organization, department, business, project, etc., the process of planning includes planners working backwards through the system. They start from the results (outcomes and outputs) they prefer...